EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Labor Day celebrates the social and economic achievements of American workers but gig workers feel like they are left out of the holiday.
Rideshare app drivers across the state have been pushing for the same rights as traditional workers.
“Labor Day, it’s not our day. It’s somebody else’s day, but not our day because we don’t count as employees. We’re just a number,” said John Garcia, who has been driving for Uber and Lyft since 2021.
A driver’s appreciation event was held in East Hartford on Saturday. It was hosted by the Independent Drivers Guild, a group that fights for the rights of drivers across the country.
The event featured free food, backpack giveaways for kids going back to school, a magic show and music. It was also a chance for drivers to connect with one another.
“You can spend time with your family, not just your family members, but your other family of Uber and Lyft drivers,” said Abubkar Adam, with the Independent Drivers Guild. “We have to have all the drivers together, so we can show people the power of unity we have.”
Independent contractors can’t unionize, so the Independent Drivers Guild is the closest drivers can get to that kind of support.
As independent contractors, drivers have to follow the company’s rules when it comes to pay. Drivers get to make their own schedules, but they don’t get any of the other benefits that come with a traditional job.
“We have to pay for the gas, we have to pay for the repairs, maintenance. We have to pay for everything,” Garcia said. “Nobody is looking to us. We are alone. Nobody cares about us.”
The guild works on advocacy and legislation, representing more than 20,000 drivers in Connecticut.